Yep – the good ole “bean counters” have been busy again looking at new and better (read: $$$) ways to “enhance” the cruise experience!
First came “specialty restaurants” (removing some “primo” items from the Main Dining Room and offering them in new venues with a per-person “cover”) – then Royal Caribbean increased the “automatic gratuity” on pre-paid beverage packages from 15% to 18% - then Norwegian began testing a $7.95 “room service “convenience charge”– and, now, Carnival has joined in by adding $4 to $7 for “selected” room service menu items.
Let’s see – many lines have already “enhanced” the cruise experience by doing away with Midnight Buffets (anyone remember those magnificent ice sculptures?) – afternoon “build your own ice cream sundaes” splurges –“singing waiters” – complimentary toiletries in your stateroom - and even the nightly chocolates on your pillow.
Oh – Lorraine is aware of the economy and how the market is struggling to keep cruise fares affordable (still the best value for your vacation dollars) – but she laments that new cruisers will not experience all those little “niceties” that we earlier cruisers came to enjoy – that contributed to the “uniqueness” of a cruise experience.
But – remember – you don’t have to avail yourself of any “extras” unless you choose to – sumptuous, unlimited breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in main dining rooms – buffets – and other various venues along with coffee, tea, juice, and non-bottled water – all entertainment – most seminars and special events – and a myriad of other activities are all included in your cruise fare. So what you spend over and above that is purely up to you.
The secret is to pick and choose in advance what non-inclusive “extras” are for you and include them in your cruise budget. No surprises that way!
Lorraine wonders, though, if Evian is “enhanced” by a gratuity of 3% more – or if it still tastes pretty much like water – LOL!